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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of December 4 - 10, 2002


Vaurnettes wow Republican Party

Express Staff Writer

Republican governors converged at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Laguna, Calif., last week to celebrate the GOP's recent victories and President Bush’s popularity.

Attendants at the three-day gathering included incumbents and incoming governors-to-be. But the real thrill, the big blast, the top prize for outrageousness and all-out comical star power went to The Fabulous Vaurnettes, from little ole Ketchum, Idaho.

The Vaurnettes and their band were flown down to Laguna by longtime fan and Sun Valley ski enthusiast Greg Stevens, from Washington D.C., whose media consulting company organizes events for the party happy Republicans.

Known for their high camp, high heels and "four part high anxiety," this gaggle of women—Linda Badell, Cherie Kessler, Callie Galpin and Heidi Bates—wear wildly decorated head gear, bizarre Bavarian flounce dirndls, wicked retro Oz-ish Mary Jane heels, and are famous for their one-liners and rewritten oldies.

One woman, who didn’t know about Sun Valley’s Austrian past, took one look at their get-up and said, " ‘Why are you wearing that?’ We won her over though," Badell said.

During the three weeks they had to prepare for the show, they wrote special topical and political songs for the event, Badell said.

"We did a lot of new material," Bates said. "We tailored it from our usual camp to more cutesy and sweet so we wouldn’t offend them. I think the Republicans liked it."

With their band, Jarod Hermann, Jim Paisley, Cliff Cunha and Rick Hoel, they stayed at the Ritz-Carlton on the beach.

For the show, the RGA turned the tony St. Regis ballroom into a nightclub, complete with dark blue velvet, with a casual after dinner snack menu of popcorn, peanuts and beer. They dubbed the evening, Haley and the Comics, in reference to Haley Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman. Barbour is planning a much-ballyhooed run for the Mississippi governorship in 2003.

"Haley Barbour is awesome," Galpin admitted. Not all the Vuarnette’s are Republicans but "we’re professionals doing our job," Kessler said. "Our job is to entertain them."

And entertain them, they did. The night of the show the Vuarnettes entered the "nightclub" through the very conservative crowd of approximately 600, accidentally hitting people in the face with their wide skirts and spilling drinks, while singing "Heard it through the grapevine, that the Democrats are asinine."

Another of their rewritten songs was ‘Re-elect," which was sung to the tune of "Respect."

"A lot of it was for Haley Barbour," Bates said. "Those Republicans really have an agenda, but Haley got into it. He came on stage, danced around with us. It was really nice to see how much he enjoyed the show."

In honor of their Idaho home, the foursome preformed a version of "Leader of the Pack" for our own Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who is well known for his motorcycling habits. Unfortunately, he was a no-show at the event.

Other highlights were singing "Playboy" to the comic Jim Morris, who appeared in the guise of former President Bill Clinton. Morris and special guest Bo Derek also performed a comedic take-off on the presidential debates, with Morris doing Bush, Gore, and Perot, as well as Clinton. Derek was the moderator of the faux debate.

"Jim Morris was hysterical and fun to work with. We rewrote ‘Happy birthday, Baby’ for Bo Derek, whose birthday it was, and roasted her. She was very game," Galpin said.

When the Vaurnettes returned after a break for another half-hour, they sang "My Guy," in honor of President Bush, while riding around on stick horses with elephant’s heads.

"My stick horse had a Bush face and I was dancing with it while the other girls were mounted on theirs," Kessler said, laughing. "Us being Idaho girls, we gotta thing for cowboys. We were tryin’ to butter him up to get an invite down to the ranch in Crawford."

Perhaps word got back to the prez through his brother, Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, who was in attendance.

"Everything else was its usual tacky stuff," Galpin said.

The Vaurnettes will return to their winter schedule, beginning Dec. 29, for two shows, at the Boiler Room in Sun Valley. For the remainder of the winter they’ll play every Monday night at 5:30 p.m.


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